The AirForce has a new called ‘Blue Devil’ that aims to use a new type of blimp out-fitted with cutting edge technology to help soldiers in Afghanistan. The blimp, called MavShip, is designed to support Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) operations in Southwest Asia. MavShip is a Lighter Than Air (LTA) vehicle concept that was initially presented to the Air Force and the Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) back in the spring of 2009. The new design will help soldiers in deploying multiple mission payloads to altitudes in excess of 20,000 feet for days at a time. Measuring over one-hundred meters in length and approximately 1.4 million cubic feet in volume, MavShip will be the largest airship of its kind produced since the 1960′s. The MavShip features a unique Payload Integration Infrastructure (PII) that incorporates a rail system to rapidly install payload modules that are based on the NATO-standard 463L pallet system. The PII provides an integrated electro-mechanical, power distribution, and data acquisition architecture to enable the field-expedient installation of mission payloads, minimizing airship down-time. This “federated” payload approach enables true plug-and-play functionality so that mission systems can be quickly configured in the field to accommodate the widest range of operational needs. As always the AirForce won’t disclose exactly what type of sensors or equipment the blimp will be out-fitted with but I’m sure that it will incorporate some kind of listening devices, day/night video cameras, communications relays and receivers for ground sensors. But I could be wrong.